The genus echinopsis has over 120 species most of which are from south-America (e.g. brazil, chile, peru). The echinopsis pachanoi, also known as the san Pedro cactus is a member of the genus trichocereus . It can still be found on market under the original name ( trichocereus pachanoi ).
It can reach several meters in height and contains mescaline, which is a hallucinogen. It is also a part of the Narcotics Act, the possession of which can be a felony crime. However, this does not apply to the san pedro Cactus which is available in shops. In Peru, where it is native, it was utilized by its inhabitants as a plant to treat ailments.
They live in western South America, from Ecuador to central Chile, mainly in the Andes. They look like Echinopsis , with the same flowers and fruits, but they tend to be better. If we include all the Echinopsis columns, the differences are that they are much taller and less branched than the rest of the Echinopsis , and usually have fibers coming out of the isolas from a certain height to protect them from the sun. As they tend to grow at high altitudes, they are very resistant to cold, but they get heat worse and need more water than other cacti. Besides, it is one of the fastest-growing cacti .
- Echinopsis atacamensis ( Trichocereus pasacana ) ( -12oC )
- Trichocereus pachanoi ( although years ago the name was changed to Echinopsis pachanoi ) (-10ºC )
- Echinopsis lageniformis ( Trichocereus bridgesii ) ( -10oC )
What Do You Do with San Pedro Cactus in the Winter?
If you plant it outdoors, San Pedro cacti will require more frequent watering during the summer and only minimal irrigation during the winter months. The cold temperatures could prevent the liquid from evaporating and your cacti could be left in damp soil all day. This could cause root rot which should be avoided at all possible.
What Temperature Can a San Pedro Cactus Tolerate?
A healthy San Pedro can withstand temperatures are low as 50° degrees Fahrenheit (10° C) with the occasional brief dip as low as 15.8° degrees Fahrenheit (-9° C).
Can You Keep a San Pedro Cactus Indoors?
You can grow a San Pedro Cactus indoors. The San Pedro cactus (Echinopsis pachanoi, USDA plant hardiness zones 8 to 10). They require the same basic care as other plants, which makes them no more difficult to care for than any other cactus.
How Cold Is Too Cold for San Pedro?
The USDA hardiness zone map places San Pedro as cold-hardy down to 10°F (-12°C), but it can survive colder temperatures for short periods of time. In fact, even at these lower temperatures, San Pedro will still put out new pups from the base of the mother plant.
Healthy, mature specimens produce showy, fragrant, white night-blooming flowers in early July.
Characteristics of the San Pedro Cactus
This Echinopsis pachanoi (San Pedro) is an arboreal cactus that can reach as high as seven meters tall. The spines of the cactus are long and brown.
In nature It is typically separated from the base, making the branch virtually unrecognizable.
It’s said that the San Pedro cactus is named after Saint Peter, the keeper of the gates of heaven, which may be a reference to its ability to get users in touch with their spiritual side.
The preparation and ritualistic use of this psychedelic substance are well-established among native tribes throughout South America. Shamans have used it for healing and to communicate with their gods since prehistoric times.
The San Pedro cactus has been used for around 3,000 years for religious and medicinal purposes. Among the different alkaloids it contains, mescaline (the same alkaloid that peyote contains) is responsible for its psychoactive effects.
How to Care for a Cactus in Winter
Cacti are used to hot dry weather with little water, so they don’t survive in winter when the temperature drops.
In winter cacti need different attention than the rest of the year.
If you have a cactus in your home that you want to keep alive then here are some tips for how to care for a cactus in winter.
1. Moderate the risks.
In winter, the minimum temperatures that cacti can withstand are between eight and ten degrees. Below these figures, you should not water your cactus. Excess water and cold can damage your plant. In fact, at this time of year, they are in their resting stage and it is advisable to moderate the risks.
This is the season when many exotic plants enter into a period of rest and recovery. Generally speaking, this period lasts for two months: from October to December in the northern hemisphere (and January to March in the southern). This period should be characterized by a low maintenance schedule for your plants. You should not fertilize them during this time and you should only water them when absolutely necessary.
2. Once or twice a month.
As temperatures drop, you have to dose the irrigations and do them once or twice a month. In addition, it is recommended if it is done at noon or on sunny days.
3. Remove the water from the bottom.
When you water a cactus, it’s tempting to leave it sitting in that same water for too long, but you should always remember to empty the excess out. Never leave your cactus in standing water after watering it, because the roots will rot and the plant will die.
4. Put it in a cool room.
In winter it is convenient to place your cactus inside the house, preferably in a cool room around fifteen degrees. If you have your plant indoors, it should be watered only when the soil is completely dry.
5. Outside, it is not necessary to water it.
The cactus is a plant that refuses to die. It is not very demanding and can survive in any climate, but it is sensitive to the cold. The ideal temperature for this plant is between 18 and 24 °C. If you have the cactus outside, it is not necessary to water it during the winter, but do not forget to protect it from the atmospheric phenomena of winter. Choose a sheltered corner so that it is not affected by frost. Avoid taking them to the windows since the combination of cold and humidity is lethal for these plants. If it is not possible, at least cover them so that the water does not fall on them.
6. Use insecticides.
When temperatures drop, cacti are at risk of exposure to parasites. These pests only attack when plants are more vulnerable, in the winter or when they’re ill due to lack of water.
To avoid this, you can use insecticides mixed with the irrigation water during the fall. If you respect the winter rest period by reducing watering and even adding fertilizer and protecting your cactus from low temperatures and frost, it will look great in spring.